A couple of weeks ago I was on Imgur, a photo sharing app that is like Pringles, ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’ and I came across an image that had a story attached. Whilst I can’t find the original post, I remember it very well and why it struck a chord with me. Someone had seen a status by a friend that told the story of Andrew Grubb, @Grubber on Twitter, who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and one of his bucket list items was to collect as many Twitter followers as he could. A small request that would take no more than a couple of seconds for people to help Andrew achieve.
I then read on Andrew’s Twitter feed that he has a baby daughter and wife, he wanted to leave his family with memories and I decided right then and there I wanted to help. I spoke with Andrew, who is a great guy and very candid, about what he is going through, his family and the memories he wants to leave behind.
Andrew, can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about who you are please.
My name is Andrew Grubb and I am a Game Developer for America’s Army.
We are talking to you today after finding your story on Imgur, after a friend of a friend posted it. Rather than us trying to explain your situation, can you tell us about it in your own words please?
Sometime in March 2014 I had a growth removed from my back that most thought was a harmless overgrown cyst or something. After a biopsy was done, the growth was determined to be leiomyosarcoma or “LMS” for short. This is a very rare and aggressive cancer that is usually found in the organs I believe. After this discovery they had to do a second surgery to get clear margins and then they used radiation to treat my back in the hopes to get any bit of the cancer remaining. All seemed well and life went one. My baby girl was born in July and everything seemed fine. Shortly after I started experiencing some back pain and upon doing a CT scan they discovered another growth in my back as well as some growths my lungs. So sometime in August of 2014 I started chemotherapy. After two cycles of the recommended chemo drugs, there was no progress towards recovery. We decided to seek a second opinion at MD Anderson. We tried several regiments of chemo and none of them were effective enough to reverse the growth. Before we could try any clinical trials I had a slight seizure. Upon examination they found I had formed some brain tumors and this made it incredibly dangerous for me to do any clinical trials. So I was left with two options, I could try one last chemo drug with a low percent chance of working or I could live out my days with my family and not be sick. I chose to live out my days as I was not able to hold my daughter for the longest time, I didn’t want to give that up.
Facing, undoubtedly one of the most difficult things imaginable, you appear to be coping remarkably well. Do you have advice for anyone in your situation?
Being terminal is hard in so many ways but I don’t want to be mad or sad. It’s just not who I am. I get sad, I cry… but I can always look at my wife and daughter and just think that I need to be there for them in every way that I can be. For me that means working to make sure they will be ok after I am gone and staying positive while I am here so they can grieve easier. So my advice is simple, it is what it is, keep fighting to make the world a better place before you go. Start with your family and move out from there.
It must be something everyone goes through – what do I want to do while I can – lists. We know that you are eager to see just how many Twitter followers you can get – (Follow Andrew here @Grubber to add to his tally), is there anything else that you would like to do for you?
My bucket list is long as I am sure most people’s are. As I would need a ton of money and time to complete it, I am trying to focus on things that get us the most bang for our buck. My main focus is on things that allow me to get a lot of family memories in that my wife can tell stories about to my daughter. But yea, not everything on the bucket list costs money. The twitter thing for instance was just something I thought would be fun and interesting and it totally has been. I did not expect the growth I got.
As for some list items… I’d like to finish the game I am working on. I’d like to take a Disney Cruise with my family. I’d like to get my hair back :). And I have always wanted to go to Australia.
We hear that you are working as a game developer, something many of our readers love to find out about and that you have a burning desire to see Blizzard up close. Are there any other games companies you would love to see inner workings of? Why those in particular?
Yea, working for Blizzard is my dream job and I am a big fan of all their games. I will actually be travelling out there for a tour on May 4th. The tour was arranged by Blizzard and Army Game Studios. I would also love to see Bethesda, Gearbox, and several others. Mostly I would love to pick the brains of their developers to learn about the challenges they overcame in making some of my favourite games. Most of these companies, I just plain admire the passion they bring to their games and when you can see that as part of their whole company. That said, there are tons of smaller companies and indie developers that exude the same passion. As a game developer, its awesome when you can work with others that are just as passionate about making the game awesome as you are.
We understand you have a young family, are there any dreams that you would love to fulfil with them, while you can?
At 9 months my daughter won’t remember her daddy… my hope is to make memories with the family and friends that will be around her as she grows up. They can tell stories about me and make me a part of her life. I am also working on videos that will be shown to her on her birthdays. These videos will allow me to tell her stories about what I was doing at her age and hopefully give her an idea of who her father was. I just wish I could do more.
If you would like to help Andrew in any way then please feel free to contact me on [email protected] and I will happily pass along your details to him.
Founder of Eclectic Enchantments blog, Erika has also been a beauty writer, fashion writer and Beauty & Accessories Editor for a large online magazine before starting Erisea.
Erika lives with her dog, Hendrix and beautiful baby girl. She suffers with Fibromyalgia and CFS, among other illnesses which leaves her housebound much of the time. Her passion is writing.